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Jan 24, 2008

Research position at Aerospace Psychology Research Group

The Aerospace Psychology Research Group, School of Psychology, Trinity  College Dublin, is part of a large EU Research Consortium, and they are currently looking to hire a researcher in the area of VR/Human Factors/HCI.

The main work of the group concerns carrying out research into the human and organisational factors which underlie safety, reliability and change in complex safety-critical industries like aviation and the 
process industries. This particular project will concentrate on Process Engineering Simulation. The work will include VR and HCI/Human Factors

The position is available immediately and will require one month in Milan. The basic salary ranges between 30K-35K Euro (negotiable depending upon experience and qualifications).

If you would like to know more contact:

Alison Kay on 00353 (0) 87 2635673 or at kayam AT tcd.ie


Jan 23, 2008

Using brain-computer communication to navigate virtual environments

Brain-computer communication: motivation, aim, and impact of exploring a virtual apartment.

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2007 Dec;15(4):473-82

Authors: Leeb R, Lee F, Keinrath C, Scherer R, Bischof H, Pfurtscheller G

The step away from a synchronized or cue-based brain-computer interface (BCI) and from laboratory conditions towards real world applications is very important and crucial in BCI research. This work shows that ten naive subjects can be trained in a synchronous paradigm within three sessions to navigate freely through a virtual apartment, whereby at every junction the subjects could decide by their own, how they wanted to explore the virtual environment (VE). This virtual apartment was designed similar to a real world application, with a goal-oriented task, a high mental workload, and a variable decision period for the subject. All subjects were able to perform long and stable motor imagery over a minimum time of 2 s. Using only three electroencephalogram (EEG) channels to analyze these imaginations, we were able to convert them into navigation commands. Additionally, it could be demonstrated that motivation is a very crucial factor in BCI research; motivated subjects perform much better than unmotivated ones.

Jan 17, 2008

Postdoctoral Researcher in Multi User Virtual Environments for Learning

The Centre for Research in IT in Education at Trinity College, Dublin has received funding for a 3 year research project exploring the potential of Multi User Virtual Environments in Education, specifically Development Education. The project is funded by Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs. Using Second Life initially, this project will design and construct virtual spaces consisting of interactive learning experiences and collaborative activities for learners and teachers/tutors to engage with the issues within Development Education. In addition to the construction, this project will devise training for both learners and tutors as well as conducting a wide ranging evaluation of the learning potential of such environments.

Position: Post-Doctoral Position
Location: Trinity College, Dublin University, Dublin, Ireland
Contract: Three year duration

(http://www. tcd.ie)

Deadline for applications: 1st February, 2008

Jan 14, 2008

The neuroscience of collecting

My friend and science journalist Pierangelo Garzia has written an interesting piece on the neuroscientific basis of collecting that will appear soon in the Cartier Art Magazine, "Collectors".

Here is the abstract:

Recent studies in neuroscience have demonstrated that collecting is a biological necessity even more than a psychological one. For early man collecting was a means of providing for his vital needs. For contemporary man is an important way of providing for psychological well-being.

Prehistoric man set aside the fundamental elements he needed for his survival and so do we. The refrigerator and the supermarket are the modern equivalents of cold cellars and food caches of earlier times.

Collecting is born of a basic need: survival, not only physical, but psychical well. There's not a great deal of difference between prehistoric man and urbanized third millennium beings like ourselves.


Cartier 19, 2008, Cartier Art Magazine, "Collectors" (monographic issue).

12:54 Posted in Research tools | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: research tools

Jan 13, 2008

Validity of virtual reality as a method of exposure in the treatment of test anxiety.

Validity of virtual reality as a method of exposure in the treatment of test anxiety.

Behav Res Methods. 2007 Nov;39(4):844-51

Authors: Alsina-Jurnet I, Carvallo-Beciu C, Gutiérez-Maldonado J

This is a validation study, aiming to explore the effectiveness of a set of virtual environments forproducing emotionally significant responses in students with high levels of test anxiety in order to be able to implement them later in treatment. Twenty-one students agreed to take part, 11 with high test anxiety and 10 with low test anxiety. The virtual environments were prepared in chronological order: the student's home, then the metro, and finally the corridor and lecture hall where the examination takes place. The results showed that the high-test-anxiety group presented higher levels of anxiety and depression than the low-test-anxiety group during exposure to the virtual environments. This study shows that virtual reality is able to provoke emotional responses in students with high test anxiety. This validation study should be followed up with treatment studies to evaluate the efficacy of virtual reality therapy for treating test anxiety.

Metaplace builds a different architecture for virtual worlds

Via Technology Review

Metaplace is building a system that's designed to treat virtual worlds like other content on the Web. With Metaplace, designers can build worlds using a markup language, style sheets, modules, and a scripting language. Every world acts like a Web server, and every object in a world has a URL. What this means for users of these worlds is that they can move seamlessly from the rest of the Web into the virtual world and back again. A user can browse to any object in a Metaplace world from outside, and every object can be linked to the rest of the Web and exchange information with Web services. 

Read full article on Technology Review 

Centrally controlled heart rate changes during mental practice in immersive virtual environment

Centrally controlled heart rate changes during mental practice in immersive virtual environment: A case study with a tetraplegic.

Int J Psychophysiol. 2007 Nov 29;

Authors: Pfurtscheller G, Leeb R, Friedman D, Slater M

A tetraplegic patient was able to induce midcentral localized beta oscillations in the electroencephalogram (EEG) after extensive mental practice of foot motor imagery. This beta oscillation was used to simulate a wheel chair movement in a virtual environment (VE). The analysis of electrocardiogram (ECG) data revealed that the induced beta oscillations were accompanied by a characteristic heart rate (HR) change in form of a preparatory HR acceleration followed by a short-lasting deceleration in the order of 10-20 bpm (beats-per-minute). This provides evidence that mental practice of motor performance is accompanied not only by activation of cortical structures but also by central commands into the cardiovascular system with its nuclei in the brain stem.

Jan 09, 2008

Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies:

Via Networked Performance


Submission Deadline: February 29, 2009 :: All research articles are refereed and should be between 7000 - 10000 words in length :: We also welcome submission of debates (1500 - 3000 words) or Feature Reports (3000 - 4000 words). This call invites submissions for a special issue related to Digital Cultures of California. Internationally, California is a phenomenon in terms of its relationship to creating, consuming and reflecting upon the era of digital technologies. From the legendary garage entrepreneurs, to the multi-billion dollar culture of venture capital, to stock back-dating scandals, to the epic exodus of California’s IT teams during the Burning Man Festival, this state plays an important role in the cultures of digital technologies.

The Bay Area of California (often referred to somewhat incorrectly as Northern California) is often perceived as a hot-bed of technology activity. Silicon Valley serves as a marker for the massive funding of enterprises that shape many aspects of digital culture. The new interaction rituals that have come to define what social life has become in many parts of the world can often be traced back to this part of the state. New forms of presence awareness and digital communication such as Twitter and Flickr have found a comfortable home in the Bay Area. Complimenting the Bay Area s activities in social software is Southern California - Los Angeles in particular - where Hollywood sensibilities bring together entertainment with technology through such things as video games and 3D cinema.

California is also the home of several colleges and universities where digital technologies are developed in engineering departments and reflected upon from social science and humanities departments. This curious relationship between production and analysis creates the promise of insightful interdisciplinary approaches to making culture. Many institutions have made efforts to combine engineering and social science practices to bolster technology design. Xerox PARC probably stands as the canonical example of interdisciplinary approaches to digital technology design. Similarly, combining arts practices with technology as a kind of exploratory research and development has important precedent at places like PARC and at the practice-based events such as the San Jose California-based Zero One Festival and Symposium.

In this special issue we welcome submissions which investigate, provoke and explicate the California digital cultures from a variety of perspectives. We are interested in papers that approach this phenomenon in scholarly and practice-based ways.

* What are the ways that social networks have been shaped by digital techniques?

* How has the phenomenon of the digital entrepreneur evolved in the age of DIY sensibilities?

* What are the ways that new ideas succeed or fail based on their dissemination amongst the elite, connected digerati, as opposed to their dissemination amongst less more quotidian communities?

* What is the nature of the matrix of relationships between Hollywood entertainment, the military and digital technology?

* Can the DIY culture explored in the pages of Make magazine produce its own markets?

* How does the Apple Inc. culture of product design and development shape and inform popular culture?

* How have the various interdisciplinary approaches undertaken at corporate research centers connected to universities such as Intel Berkeley Labs shaped digital cultures?

Contact for further information: Julian Bleecker - julian [at] nearfuturelaboratory.com

Ars Virtua “World of Warcraft Residence”

Via Networked Performance



Ars Virtua Artist-in-Residence (AVAIR): World of Warcraft Residence :: Call for Proposals :: Deadline:Jurors: Eddo Stern, James Morgan, Amy Wilson, and Jay Van Buran January 15, 2008 ::

Ars Virtua Gallery and New Media Center in Second Life is soliciting proposals for its artist-in-residence program. Established and emerging artists will work within the massively multiplayer online environment of World of Warcraft. The residency will culminate in an exhibition of documentation in Second Life and/or on the web. Residents will also receive a $400 stipend, training and mentorship as necessary. Ars Virtua Artist-in-Residence (AVAIR) is an extended performance that examines what it means to reside in a place that has no physical location. The purpose of the residency is to reflect on the nature of the game environment and terrestrial world in the context of contemporary art.

Ars Virtua is keenly aware of the growing power of synthetic worlds in terrestrial existence. The arts have already begun to infiltrate and influence the environment, development and understanding of these “places.” It is the purpose of this residency to give direct attention to the interrogation of the space, place, and metaphor. Residents will be encouraged to explore, experiment with and challenge traditional conventions of art making and distribution, value and the art market, artist and audience, space and place.

Application Process: Artists are encouraged to log in to World of Warcraft BEFORE applying. Be aware that Blizzard offers a 10 day Free trial, and that finalists will be contacted for an in world interview. Applications will be judged based on ideas presented and work previously executed. We are looking for an artist who is willing to work within what may be a new environment for them and be prepared to evolve in response to the synthetic world and Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game that is WoW.

To apply send the following information to avair-at-arsvirtua.com:

1) Name, address, phone number, email, Warcraft Character/Realm/Faction.
2) Link to an online portfolio (expect a 5 minute visit) and one page proposal. If you do not have an online portfolio please briefly discuss your work.


Jan 7 - official call
Jan 15 - applications/letters of interest due
Jan 16-20 - interviews (or equivalent in WoW)
Jan 21/22 Announcement

“AVAIR” is a 2006-2008 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the Jerome Foundation.

Ars Virtua is sponsored by the CADRE Laboratory for New Media.


HCI Expert - Cambridge, UK

Via UsabilityNews

Deadine: 28 January 2008 - HCI Expert

Position for 1-year, based in Cambridge, UK
Salary: Competitive

- Lead the HCI phases of development projects in coordination with researchers, graphic designers and software engineers
- Design and conduct usability studies, analyze the results of usability studies, and make design recommendations
- Carry out fieldwork, analyze the findings, perform the statistical analysis of data logs, and identify potential design solutions
- Design and create user interface designs
- Represent and interpret usability data and HCI research during the research and design process
- Write academic papers for publication at international conferences

- A minimum of 2 years of demonstrated experience conducting user-centered design projects
- A higher degree in the area of human-computer interaction
- International publications in ACM conferences
- Research design skills in experimental design and observational methods
- The ability to communicate and argue for results, methods, approaches both orally and in writing
- The ability to make group presentations
- The ability to work in an explorative R&D environment where the objectives are responsive to research findings

Please send a copy of your CV to jobs@instrata.co.uk

Brain–Computer Communication: Motivation, Aim, and Impact of Exploring a Virtual Apartment

Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on [see also IEEE Trans. on Rehabilitation Engineering]

Leeb, R.   Lee, F.   Keinrath, C.   Scherer, R.   Bischof, H.   Pfurtscheller, G.  

Publication Date: Dec. 2007
Volume: 15,  Issue: 4
On page(s): 473-482
ISSN: 1534-4320


The step away from a synchronized or cue-based brain–computer interface (BCI) and from laboratory conditions towards real world applications is very important and crucial in BCI research. This work shows that ten naive subjects can be trained in a synchronous paradigm within three sessions to navigate freely through a virtual apartment, whereby at every junction the subjects could decide by their own, how they wanted to explore the virtual environment (VE). This virtual apartment was designed similar to a real world application, with a goal-oriented task, a high mental workload, and a variable decision period for the subject. All subjects were able to perform long and stable motor imagery over a minimum time of 2 s. Using only three electroencephalogram (EEG) channels to analyze these imaginations, we were able to convert them into navigation commands. Additionally, it could be demonstrated that motivation is a very crucial factor in BCI research; motivated subjects perform much better than unmotivated ones.

Jan 05, 2008

When spiders appear suddenly

When spiders appear suddenly: Spider-phobic patients are distracted by task-irrelevant spiders.

Behav Res Ther. 2007 Nov 17;

Authors: Gerdes AB, Alpers GW, Pauli P

Fear is thought to facilitate the detection of threatening stimuli. Few studies have examined the effects of task-irrelevant phobic cues in search tasks that do not involve semantic categorization. In a combined reaction time and eye-tracking experiment we investigated whether peripheral visual cues capture initial attention and distract from the execution of goal-directed eye movements. Twenty-one spider-phobic patients and 21 control participants were instructed to search for a color singleton while ignoring task-irrelevant abrupt-onset distractors which contained either a small picture of a spider (phobic), a flower (non-phobic, but similar to spiders in shape), a mushroom (non-phobic, and not similar to spiders in shape), or no picture. As expected, patients' reaction times were longer on trials with spider distractors. However, eye movements revealed that this was not due to attentional capture by spider distractors; patients more often fixated on all distractors with pictures, but their reaction times were delayed by longer fixation durations on spider distractors. These data do not support automatic capture of attention by phobic cues but suggest that phobic patients fail to disengage attention from spiders.

17:45 Posted in Research tools | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: cybertherapy

$9 Bi: Microsoft's Estimate For The Serious Games Market

Via Future-making serious games

BusinessWeek has published an article this week where David Boker, senior director of the Business Development Group at Microsoft's Aces Studio, one of Microsoft's game studios where ESP was developed, says Microsoft conservatively estimates Serious Games market at $9 billion.

The Serious Games market is currently valued at about $150 million, according to Ben Sawyer, president of the Portland (Me.) consulting firm Digitalmill and co-director of the Serious Games Initiative. While not huge, that's nearly three times more than in 2005, according to Sawyer's estimates, and growth looks set to continue. 


17:38 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious games

Robot-based hand motor therapy after stroke

Robot-based hand motor therapy after stroke.

Brain. 2007 Dec 20;

Authors: Takahashi CD, Der-Yeghiaian L, Le V, Motiwala RR, Cramer SC

Robots can improve motor status after stroke with certain advantages, but there has been less emphasis to date on robotic developments for the hand. The goal of this study was to determine whether a hand-wrist robot would improve motor function, and to evaluate the specificity of therapy effects on brain reorganization. Subjects with chronic stroke producing moderate right arm/hand weakness received 3 weeks therapy that emphasized intense active movement repetition as well as attention, speed, force, precision and timing, and included virtual reality games. Subjects initiated hand movements. If necessary, the robot completed movements, a feature available at all visits for seven of the subjects and at the latter half of visits for six of the subjects. Significant behavioural gains were found at end of treatment, for example, in Action Research Arm Test (34 +/- 20 to 38 +/- 19, P< 0.0005) and arm motor Fugl-Meyer score (45 +/- 10 to 52 +/- 10, P < 0.0001). Results suggest greater gains for subjects receiving robotic assistance in all sessions as compared to those receiving robotic assistance in half of sessions. The grasp task practiced during robotic therapy, when performed during functional MRI, showed increased sensorimotor cortex activation across the period of therapy, while a non-practiced task, supination/pronation, did not. A robot-based therapy showed improvements in hand motor function after chronic stroke. Reorganization of motor maps during the current therapy was task-specific, a finding useful when considering generalization of rehabilitation therapy.

17:31 Posted in Cybertherapy | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: cybertherapy

Heading assessment by "tunnel vision" patients and control subjects standing or walking in a virtual reality environment

Heading assessment by "tunnel vision" patients and control subjects standing or walking in a virtual reality environment.

ACM Trans Appl Percept. 2007 Jan;4(1):nihms21521

Authors: Apfelbaum H, Pelah A, Peli E

Virtual reality locomotion simulators are a promising tool for evaluating the effectiveness of vision aids to mobility for people with low vision. This study examined two factors to gain insight into the verisimilitude requirements of the test environment: the effects of treadmill walking and the suitability of using controls as surrogate patients. Ten "tunnel vision" patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) were tasked with identifying which side of a clearly visible obstacle their heading through the virtual environment would lead them, and were scored both on accuracy and on their distance from the obstacle when they responded. They were tested both while walking on a treadmill and while standing, as they viewed a scene representing progress through a shopping mall. Control subjects, each wearing a head-mounted field restriction to simulate the vision of a paired patient, were also tested. At wide angles of approach, controls and patients performed with a comparably high degree of accuracy, and made their choices at comparable distances from the obstacle. At narrow angles of approach, patients' accuracy increased when walking, while controls' accuracy decreased. When walking, both patients and controls delayed their decisions until closer to the obstacle. We conclude that a head-mounted field restriction is not sufficient for simulating tunnel vision, but that the improved performance observed for walking compared to standing suggests that a walking interface (such as a treadmill) may be essential for eliciting natural perceptually-guided behavior in virtual reality locomotion simulators.

17:30 Posted in Cybertherapy | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: virtual reality

Feasibility of Using the Sony PlayStation 2 for an Individual Poststroke

Feasibility of Using the Sony PlayStation 2 Gaming Platform for an Individual Poststroke: A Case Report.

J Neurol Phys Ther. 2007 Dec;31(4):180-9

Authors: Flynn S, Palma P, Bender A

RATIONALE:: Many Americans live with physical functional limitations stemming from stroke. These functional limitations can be reduced by task-specific training that is repetitive, motivating, and augmented with feedback. Virtual reality (VR) is reported to offer an engaging environment that is repetitive, safe, motivating, and gives task-specific feedback. The purpose of this case report was to explore the use of a low-cost VR device [Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2) EyeToy] for an individual in the chronic phase of stroke recovery. CASE:: An individual two years poststroke with residual sensorimotor deficits completed 20 one-hour sessions using the PS2 EyeToy. The game's task requirements included target-based motion, dynamic balance, and motor planning. The feasibility of using the gaming platform was explored and a broad selection of outcomes was used to assess change in performance. OUTCOMES:: Device use was feasible. Clinically relevant improvements were found on the Dynamic Gait Index and trends toward improvement on the Fugl-Meyer Assesment, Berg Balance Scale, UE Functional Index, Motor Activity Log, and Beck Depression Inventory. CONCLUSION:: A low-cost VR system was easily used in the home. In the future it may be used to improve sensory/motor recovery following stroke as an adjunct to standard care physical therapy.

17:29 Posted in Cybertherapy | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: cybertherapy

Portable navigation on mobiles set to take off

EE Times Europe (01/03/2008 8:30 AM EST)


LONDON — Sales of portable navigation devices are set to increase ten-fold over the next eight years, with the huge take-up coming from the the GPS functionality being embedded into mobile phones, according to Telematics Research Group (TRG).
While Garmin and TomTom are predicted to remain global market leaders for portable navigation devices, mobile phone makers such as Nokia, Motorola, LG and Samsung are expected to show the way in the near future, the Minneapolis based market research group suggests in a report on the sector.
TRG sees the worldwide portable navigation market growing from 50 million units in 2007 to more than 500 million units in 2015.
It suggests the change in market leadership is partly due to wireless connectivity opening up new applications and services by bringing together accurate location-based data with advanced POI data including pricing, inventory and user-generated content such as ratings of local businesses.
TRG estimates 30 million dedicated Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) were sold last year and about 20 million navigation-enabled mobile phones. It estimates that navigation-enabled mobile phones will start outselling dedicated PNDs next year, with the combined segments reaching annual sales of more than 220 million by the end of 2012.
The market researchers suggest that by 2015, Nokia could be selling 180 million devices with GPS capability, followed by Samsung and Motorola (both 70 million), LG (60 million), and TomTom and Garmin both 25 million.
Corresponding figures for last year are said to be 9 million units sold by TomTom, 8 million by Garmin, 7 million by Mitac, 5 million by Nokia and 4 million by Mio/Navman.
"In the years to come navigation-enabled mobile phones will be used for auto navigation, pedestrian navigation and many other types of location-based services," says Egil Juliussen, principal analyst for TRG. "This opens up a new world of services and capabilities".
Recent acquisitions by TomTom and Nokia point the way toward the coming battle for the GPS consumer, according to Juliussen.
"Required for success in the GPS market of the future will be connectivity, inexpensive maps and rich point-of-interest content addresses alone will not be enough", he adds.
Garmin and TomTom are adding connectivity to their devices, he notes, and mobile phone makers are adding maps. "A large volume market for inexpensive, dedicated navigation devices will live on past 2008," Juliussen says, but survival for TomTom and Garmin may mean finding a way to compete for smartphone users.

Towards an independent brain-computer interface using steady state visual evoked potentials

Towards an independent brain-computer interface using steady state visual evoked potentials.

Clin Neurophysiol. 2008 Feb;119(2):399-408

Authors: Allison BZ, McFarland DJ, Schalk G, Zheng SD, Jackson MM, Wolpaw JR

OBJECTIVE: Brain-computer interface (BCI) systems using steady state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) have allowed healthy subjects to communicate. However, these systems may not work in severely disabled users because they may depend on gaze shifting. This study evaluates the hypothesis that overlapping stimuli can evoke changes in SSVEP activity sufficient to control a BCI. This would provide evidence that SSVEP BCIs could be used without shifting gaze. METHODS: Subjects viewed a display containing two images that each oscillated at a different frequency. Different conditions used overlapping or non-overlapping images to explore dependence on gaze function. Subjects were asked to direct attention to one or the other of these images during each of 12 one-minute runs. RESULTS: Half of the subjects produced differences in SSVEP activity elicited by overlapping stimuli that could support BCI control. In all remaining users, differences did exist at corresponding frequencies but were not strong enough to allow effective control. CONCLUSIONS: The data demonstrate that SSVEP differences sufficient for BCI control may be elicited by selective attention to one of two overlapping stimuli. Thus, some SSVEP-based BCI approaches may not depend on gaze control. The nature and extent of any BCI's dependence on muscle activity is a function of many factors, including the display, task, environment, and user. SIGNIFICANCE: SSVEP BCIs might function in severely disabled users unable to reliably control gaze. Further research with these users is necessary to explore the optimal parameters of such a system and validate online performance in a home environment.

Mindfulness: an intervention for anxiety in schizophrenia

Mindfulness: an intervention for anxiety in schizophrenia.

J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2007 Nov;45(11):23-9

Authors: Davis LW, Strasburger AM, Brown LF

Despite evidence that individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders experience significant and persistent symptoms of anxiety, there are few reports of the use of empirically supported treatments for anxiety in this population. This article describes how we have tried to adapt mindfulness interventions to help individuals with schizophrenia who experience significant anxiety symptoms. Although mindfulness has been widely used to help individuals without psychosis, to our knowledge, this is the first study adapting it to help those with schizophrenia manage worry and stress. We provide an overview of the intervention and use an individual example to describe how our treatment development group responded. We also explore directions for future research of mindfulness interventions for schizophrenia.